Review of Hope in the Valley

Hope in the Valley Hope in the Valley
by Mitali Perkins
Middle School    Farrar    304 pp.
7/23    9780374388515    $17.99
e-book ed.  9780374388508    $10.99

The former orchard across from Pandita Paul’s home, dilapidated though it may be, holds a special place in the thirteen-year-old’s heart. It’s where she and her late mother used to spend time: “Ashar Jaiga, as Ma and I called it. Ma’s name, Asha, which means ‘hope,’ Ma’s place, Ashar Jaiga. Place of Hope.” Now the property is up for sale. Pandita, encouraged by the historical society’s call to preserve it, becomes the group’s youngest member. Meanwhile, one of her twin older sisters, an activist, helps spearhead the fight for demolition of the orchard and subsequent construction of affordable rental units. The story is set in the summer of 1980 in Silicon Valley, California, before the tech boom. It is a place on the cusp, much like the story’s protagonist, who finds herself compelled by memories of her past; the complex and fascinating history she uncovers; and possibilities for the future of her town, her family, and herself. Pandita, a budding poet, reluctantly attends summer drama camp, meets a talented new boy, reconciles with her former best friend, and struggles with family changes. An engaging subplot involves a new love interest for her father; the woman (a.k.a. “the Intruder”) is brash and outspoken, and her unsolicited opinion on the development issue is enlightening for the characters, and for readers, about both sides having a point and no one being demonized.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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